How to Effectively Onboard a New Team Member

Posted on Wednesday, August 22, 2018 by Charlotte HannaNo comments

When a new team member joins the onboarding can often be handled poorly or, worse still, not at all. You know what I mean:

  • the new hire who a week later still hasn't been allocated a laptop or desktop computer
  • the “new hire training” that covers the legal stuff and protects the company but doesn’t help the new employee understand how business gets done or whom he or she will be working with.
  • the team member who turns up to his or her first team meeting, where no one has any idea of who this new person is

Here are a few tips to ensure that you create a foundation for success when welcoming your new team member:

Top secret recruitment

You’ve just hired this wonderful talented person to your team. Don’t keep it quiet! Make sure the rest of the team (and organisation) know all about it so they don't look blankly at the new starter on their first day. 


Your organisation chart provides a picture of who reports to whom; it’s the formal hierarchy. Help your new hire understand who the critical stakeholders are that he or she needs to get to know in the short term. Prioritise the list and share why so-and-so is important. Make the introductions in person. Don’t just send your new employee out to go find “Sarah.”

Who's who

While the organization chart illustrates your company's formal hierarchy, then this tip is about "how things really get done around here.” Spend time explaining the informal network, the go-to people, the gatekeepers, the people who know what’s happening before it happens, the connectors and potentially the rivals/adversaries who may not think highly of you and your team and may transfer that attitude to your innocent new hire.

Explain the jargon

I’ve yet to find a company that doesn’t have its own secret code -- corporate language and jargon that is lost on the outsider. Whether it’s those pesky acronyms that people use (but can’t always explain!) or in-jokes and phrases (ask my team members about "unicorns"): Create a jargon dictionary and share the context of the in-jokes so that new hires can join in the laughter and not worry whether it’s directed at them.

Do sweat the small stuff. 

It’s the little things that can be the biggest frustration when we are new to a team and wanting to be at our best. Which number do you dial to get an outside line? How do you use the photocopier? Where are the restrooms? The coffee maker (and how to refill it)? The best locations for a quick lunch? Make sure you pay attention to the small stuff so that your new employee can focus their attention on the big stuff, i.e., actually doing the job! Make sure that longer-term team members are on hand to take the new person to lunch and start cultivating a winning relationship.

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